We are incredibly grateful to be supported by Alex who is running the Robin Hood half-marathon in memory of his friend Tony

We are incredibly grateful to be supported by Alex who is running the Robin Hood half-marathon in memory of his friend Tony. Take a read of Alex’s blog below…

Twelve months ago I received a phone call that was to define 2017 for me.

I was enjoying a summer’s day off work, so when my boss called my mobile I guessed it was something important – a major issue with one of my projects or a sudden change of plan for an upcoming meeting.

Instead, he told me that the police had just visited the office. This sounded really serious. Perhaps the place had been burgled or we were in some kind of legal trouble. But still I was nowhere near the truth.

In the days after, I replayed the conversation that followed in my head over and over again because it seemed so unbelievable. Perhaps I’d somehow misunderstood.

This is what my boss phoned to tell me: our former colleague and friend Tony had been found dead in his home and it looked like he had taken his own life.

The police had called in at work to find out if Tony had been noticeably unhappy during his time with us. He left the company the previous month with the intention of moving back to London, but it had certainly not been an acrimonious departure.

In fact we all remembered Tony for his good spirits and his departure from the firm was very amicable. I met him for a drink a week or so later and he seemed upbeat about his future.

In the weeks that followed, it still didn’t make sense that Tony had died by suicide. I had to keep reprocessing the news. Yes, my boss did call me with that news. Yes, that was what he said. Yes, it had happened.

I was probably the last person to see him socially, when we went for that drink. A couple of weeks later I sent him a text asking if he wanted to join a few of us from the office at a gig in Nottingham. He didn’t respond. I assumed he was busy looking for a new job or had gone abroad at short notice (which was the kind of thing Tony would do!).

It was only now I realised that he never opened the message.

A group of us from work were going to travel to the funeral in Kent, where his family were based. Unfortunately that week I became ill and was unable to travel.

Devastated that I couldn’t pay my respects in person, I decided to write a message that my colleagues could pass on to Tony’s family. I didn’t know what to say and after a few hours staring at a blank page, I just started writing down some of the funny stories and memories I had of him – this ended up being over 2,000 words long!

The funny thing was, I had only known Tony for eight or nine months. Yet in this time we became really good mates – the kind of mates who can sit in a pub setting the world to rights for hours on end, as we did on frequent occasions.

We were both website developers but with different expertise, so we had plenty of geeky stuff to talk about and learn from each other. But we also had similar tastes in music, enjoyed quality beer and shared a passion for long-distance running

Not that I was in the same league as Tony when it came to running. He would go off to different cities at weekends to compete in half-marathons just for fun – one time he even flew to Marrakesh and ran a marathon in the Moroccan heat without having done any proper training for it.

On his way back from Morocco, he bought small toy camels for everyone in the office – a total of about 25! Everyone had one of these camels on their desk. After we got the terrible news, they took on a whole new significance.

In fact, when a bunch of us decided to pay tribute to Tony in the most fitting way we could think of – a charity run at Wollaton Park last October – we put a camel on our race t-shirts as our emblem of ‘Big T’.

And that’s why, when I run the Robin Hood Half-Marathon in Nottingham this September, I’ll be wearing a t-shirt with a camel logo and once again paying tribute to my mate Tony (hopefully raising a lot of money for better mental health in the process).

During our short time working together, hanging out in various pubs and even going on the odd training run together, Tony inspired me to be a better programmer and a better runner (I was already quite good at drinking).

And he still does.

So even if 2017 was a painful year, I want to make 2018 a really positive one: first of all by getting fit enough to run the Robin Hood Half-Marathon in a time that Tony wouldn’t just laugh at; and secondly, by encouraging all my friends, family and industry colleagues to sponsor me and raise awareness about the work Harmless does.

To support Alex in fundraising for this half-marathon please click here:https://localgiving.org/fundraising/big-tone-2018/

 

 

In the News: Screen time and children’s mental health: what does the evidence say?

A row has erupted recently over the World Health Organization’s recognition of ‘gaming disorder’ in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD11).
 
Some have questioned the WHO’s decision to include the condition in the ICD11, saying there is little evidence that screen time affects children, but the WHO says its inclusion is “based on reviews of available evidence”.
 
While the debate around ‘gaming disorder’ concerns the effects of video game use in particular, there is also a debate about the wider effects of screen time on children and young people.
 
So, what does the evidence say?
 
The use of screens has become nearly unescapable in our daily lives. Screens are now the medium through which we access entertainment, communicate with others, socialise, and shop.
 
Some studies suggest screen time is harmful…
This includes the use of screens by children and young people, with one recent study finding that 99.9% of a large sample of English 15-year olds use at least one kind of digital technology every day.1
 
As the presence of technology in the lives of children and young people has increased so, too, has interest in how these screen-based technologies impact on their health and wellbeing, and how best to manage and moderate their use.
 
Several professional bodies have released recommendations for the use of screens and digital media by children and young people. The British Psychological Society recommends that parents and carers use technology alongside children and engage them in discussions about media use.2
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend less than one to two hours of entertainment screen time per day for children and discourage the use of any screen media by children under two years of age.3
 
Many of the concerns around screen use relate to sedentary (or inactive) behaviour. The idea being that time spent in front a screen is time that is not spent exercising or doing other forms of physical activity. Sedentary behaviour may be associated with poorer physical health, wellbeing, and mental health4 and some research has connected screen use to increased sedentary behaviour in children.5
 
There are also concerns that the use of screens can impact children and young people’s sleep, something that is important to both physical and mental health and wellbeing. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that the use of screens at bedtime is linked to children having fewer hours of sleep, poorer sleep quality, and increased tiredness.6,7
 
In terms of the relationship between screen use and physical and mental health outcomes, there have been several studies that suggest higher levels of screen use in children and adolescents is associated with reduced physical activity, increased risk of depression, and lower wellbeing.5, 8-10
 
Other studies suggest screentime causes no harm…
There are other studies that find no differences in wellbeing or mental health problems between children who meet recommended screen use guidelines, and those that exceed them.1,11-12 Some studies suggest there may actually be small, positive impacts of screen use on children and young people.1,11,13
 
This shifting relationship has been suggested by some researchers to be a result of screen use having a ‘U-shaped’ relationship to health and wellbeing, where using screens for low to moderate amounts of time can have neutral to positive effects but using screens for an excessive amount of time may begin to have negative effects.1,8,11,14
 
Some of the confusion around the effects of screen use in children may also be due to how quickly technology has developed. There are now many different types of screens (televisions, computers, tablets, mobile phones) which can be used in many different ways (watching films, playing games, reading books, using social media). This means when we talk about ‘screen use’ in children and young people, we can be talking about a huge range of activities, each of which may have a unique impact.
 
Using screens for communicating and connecting with friends and loved ones may be beneficial for some children and young people.
 
There is research to suggest that, while social media has risks in the form of enabling unhealthy comparisons to others, bullying, or exposure to negative content, it can also have positive influences. Children have reported feeling that it helps them to keep in touch with others, strengthen relationships with friends, and allows them to explore new information and perspectives.13,15
 
A review of the research around Facebook use found that ‘passive use’ (scrolling through posts without interacting with the content) was associated with lower wellbeing and life satisfaction, but ‘active use’, where Facebook was used to directly communicate with others, or create content, was not associated with these negative effects, and may actually have a slight positive impact on wellbeing and perceptions of social support over time.16
 
This suggests that how children interact with media, as well as the type of media they use, and how long they use it for, may all influence mental health and wellbeing in slightly different ways.
 
Screens can also be used to actively promote mental health in the form of computerised therapies. For example, computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (cCBT), has been found to be effective for children and young people aged 12-25 who are at risk of, or are experiencing, anxiety and depression.17
 
Interpreting the research
It is important to note that a great many of the studies that look at screen use in children and young people are cross-sectional, meaning they look at the characteristics of a group at a single point in time. This can make it difficult to draw firm conclusions about whether screen use causes certain outcomes, or if children who are more likely to use screens frequently, are also more likely to experience various physical and psychological outcomes because of another common factor.
 
Ultimately, there is still much more to learn about how the use of screens and technology impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children, and as our technology develops, so too will our understanding of the many ways, both good and bad, that it can impact on our lives.
 
Link to full blog: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/screen-time-and-childrens-mental-health-what-does-evidence-say

In the News: Screen time and children’s mental health: what does the evidence say?

A row has erupted recently over the World Health Organization’s recognition of ‘gaming disorder’ in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD11).

Some have questioned the WHO’s decision to include the condition in the ICD11, saying there is little evidence that screen time affects children, but the WHO says its inclusion is “based on reviews of available evidence”.

While the debate around ‘gaming disorder’ concerns the effects of video game use in particular, there is also a debate about the wider effects of screen time on children and young people.

So, what does the evidence say?

The use of screens has become nearly unescapable in our daily lives. Screens are now the medium through which we access entertainment, communicate with others, socialise, and shop.

Some studies suggest screen time is harmful…
This includes the use of screens by children and young people, with one recent study finding that 99.9% of a large sample of English 15-year olds use at least one kind of digital technology every day.1

As the presence of technology in the lives of children and young people has increased so, too, has interest in how these screen-based technologies impact on their health and wellbeing, and how best to manage and moderate their use.

Several professional bodies have released recommendations for the use of screens and digital media by children and young people. The British Psychological Society recommends that parents and carers use technology alongside children and engage them in discussions about media use.2

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend less than one to two hours of entertainment screen time per day for children and discourage the use of any screen media by children under two years of age.3

Many of the concerns around screen use relate to sedentary (or inactive) behaviour. The idea being that time spent in front a screen is time that is not spent exercising or doing other forms of physical activity. Sedentary behaviour may be associated with poorer physical health, wellbeing, and mental health4 and some research has connected screen use to increased sedentary behaviour in children.5

There are also concerns that the use of screens can impact children and young people’s sleep, something that is important to both physical and mental health and wellbeing. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that the use of screens at bedtime is linked to children having fewer hours of sleep, poorer sleep quality, and increased tiredness.6,7

In terms of the relationship between screen use and physical and mental health outcomes, there have been several studies that suggest higher levels of screen use in children and adolescents is associated with reduced physical activity, increased risk of depression, and lower wellbeing.5, 8-10

Other studies suggest screentime causes no harm…
There are other studies that find no differences in wellbeing or mental health problems between children who meet recommended screen use guidelines, and those that exceed them.1,11-12 Some studies suggest there may actually be small, positive impacts of screen use on children and young people.1,11,13

This shifting relationship has been suggested by some researchers to be a result of screen use having a ‘U-shaped’ relationship to health and wellbeing, where using screens for low to moderate amounts of time can have neutral to positive effects but using screens for an excessive amount of time may begin to have negative effects.1,8,11,14

Some of the confusion around the effects of screen use in children may also be due to how quickly technology has developed. There are now many different types of screens (televisions, computers, tablets, mobile phones) which can be used in many different ways (watching films, playing games, reading books, using social media). This means when we talk about ‘screen use’ in children and young people, we can be talking about a huge range of activities, each of which may have a unique impact.

Using screens for communicating and connecting with friends and loved ones may be beneficial for some children and young people.

There is research to suggest that, while social media has risks in the form of enabling unhealthy comparisons to others, bullying, or exposure to negative content, it can also have positive influences. Children have reported feeling that it helps them to keep in touch with others, strengthen relationships with friends, and allows them to explore new information and perspectives.13,15

A review of the research around Facebook use found that ‘passive use’ (scrolling through posts without interacting with the content) was associated with lower wellbeing and life satisfaction, but ‘active use’, where Facebook was used to directly communicate with others, or create content, was not associated with these negative effects, and may actually have a slight positive impact on wellbeing and perceptions of social support over time.16

This suggests that how children interact with media, as well as the type of media they use, and how long they use it for, may all influence mental health and wellbeing in slightly different ways.

Screens can also be used to actively promote mental health in the form of computerised therapies. For example, computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (cCBT), has been found to be effective for children and young people aged 12-25 who are at risk of, or are experiencing, anxiety and depression.17

Interpreting the research
It is important to note that a great many of the studies that look at screen use in children and young people are cross-sectional, meaning they look at the characteristics of a group at a single point in time. This can make it difficult to draw firm conclusions about whether screen use causes certain outcomes, or if children who are more likely to use screens frequently, are also more likely to experience various physical and psychological outcomes because of another common factor.

Ultimately, there is still much more to learn about how the use of screens and technology impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children, and as our technology develops, so too will our understanding of the many ways, both good and bad, that it can impact on our lives.

Link to full blog:https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/screen-time-and-childrens-mental-health-what-does-evidence-say

In the News: Matt Hancock: mental health priorities for the new health secretary

Matt Hancock has succeeded Jeremy Hunt as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, appointed just a few days after the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday with a 3.4% increased funding settlement.

His appointment followed two significant resignations from the cabinet over the government’s Brexit proposals, and while Brexit and Donald Trump’s visit to the UK continue to dominate the headlines, this is a crucial time for mental health.

Work is starting on a 10-year plan for the NHS; Professor Sir Simon Wessely is part-way through his review of the Mental Health Act; and there is an urgent need for a sustained, genuinely long-term commitment to improving the mental health of the population.

Mental health at the forefront of the agenda
Lengthy A&E waiting times and delays to operations have historically dominated the headlines about the NHS, but in recent times mental health has begun to feature in our national debates about health and receive more of the attention it deserves.

The increased prominence of mental health is long overdue and must continue, not only in the form of traditional health services but with investment in emerging digital technologies for mental health, and in cross-sectoral preventive action.

Jeremy Hunt was a strong advocate for mental health, and it’s important that Matt Hancock continues his work. He needs to ensure that mental health benefits fairly from the extra £20 billion a year the NHS will have by 2023, and as Jeremy Hunt leaves office, it’s not yet clear that it will.

Championing digital innovation
We know from his previous posts at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that Hancock is a champion of digital innovation. We hope his enthusiasm will now embrace the role that digital technologies can play in preventing and treating mental health problems, and their potential to benefit more people than can be reached by current service models alone.

Support for mental health from all government departments
It’s important, too, that he ensures full delivery of the current Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, including championing its cross-government recommendations and finally appointing the long-awaited Equalities Champion needed to help drive change.

These should be key priorities, as many of the roots of good and poor mental health lie in policy areas such as housing, community services, employment, welfare and education. Some people and communities are at significantly higher risk of mental health problems, yet they also face bigger barriers to support.

Other government departments, therefore, need to be made aware of how they can protect and support people’s mental health rather than place it at (greater) risk.

The Secretary of State can make these arguments with ministerial colleagues: we need wider engagement with the factors affecting mental health and, fundamentally, a more preventive approach to tackling the high levels of unmet mental health needs that persist in our society.

The forthcoming social care green paper will focus on care and support for older people, but good social care is also vital for supporting people with long-term mental health problems. It is also vital for preventing childhood adversity – a major risk factor for developing mental health problems later in life.

But persistent reductions in local authority budgets have reduced resources for social care, prevention and early intervention – for example, there have been significant reductions in the numbers of health visitors, who provide valuable support to parents and families.

The 2019 Comprehensive Spending Review is an opportunity to begin to turn this around, and the Department of Health and Social Care has just as much interest in doing so as the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Connection between people and across government is as necessary to good mental health as digital connectivity is to effective digital technology. We hope this is something the new Secretary of State for Health will recognise and champion.

link to original blog https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/matt-hancock-mental-health-priorities-new-health-secretary

In the News: Blue Badge Changes Will Help People Will Mental Health Problems Live Independently

The Department for Transport recently announced that from 2019, more people with mental health problems and other invisible disabilities will be able to apply for Blue Badges – either via their local authority or through the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The Blue Badge scheme allows disabled people to park closer to their destination, but people with mental health problems have historically found it difficult to access them. Changes to disability benefits in recent years have made this even tougher – but this announcement will improve the process and make clear that mental health should be taken into account when someone applies for a Blue Badge.

For some people with mental health problems like anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia – making even very short journeys in crowded public places can be a huge source of debilitating distress. Being able to park close to a destination can be the thing which makes a journey possible and allows people to live more independently.

Many people find that things outside of their control – such as delays, diversions, or crowded platforms – can cause extreme levels of fear. We hear from people who have had panic attacks as a result of transport problems. These can last a few minutes and involve a very physical response to a mental health problem, characterised by symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations and hyperventilation. If you’ve never experienced something like this, it can be hard to relate, but panic attacks can cause you to feel as though something terrible is going to happen, or even that you’re going to die.

This move by the Government comes after the recent ruling on PIP which found that changes to the criteria were discriminatory against people with mental health problems. Again, it was a lack of awareness and knowledge about mental health problems that resulted in many people not getting the outcome they deserve. But people with ‘invisible’ illnesses can struggle to make journeys in the same way as people with physical health problems. There is also a huge overlap between physical and mental health problems – with people experiencing things like chronic pain often more likely to report having depression, for example.

After years of underfunding for mental health services, the Government says it’s committed to achieving ‘parity of esteem’ – treating mental and physical health as equally important. Put within this wider context, we hope that opening up the Blue Badge scheme to include people with mental health problems and other hidden disabilities is indicative of a positive shift in attitudes towards those of us living with these lesser understood but potentially debilitating conditions.

 

link to full blog: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/blue-badges-mental-health_uk_5b5f3860e4b0fd5c73d1c041?guccounter=1&guce_referrer_us=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvLnVrLw&guce_referrer_cs=R7pwkONm0foYalzlHpxjAw

See you at the Catch up cafe!

The Tomorrow Project is a confidential, suicide prevention service which offers practical and emotional support to those who may be having thoughts of suicide and may have been bereaved or affected by suicide.

The catch up cafes are for those who would like to access some informal, drop in support from our service and for those who would like information about our service. These sessions are for those aged 18 and above.

So whether you’d like some information on how we can support you or someone you know – if you’d like to come in and chat with a member of the team or to catch up with others – we will see you at the Catch up Cafe!

The following dates will take place at our Nottingham office at 1 Beech Avenue, Nottingham, NG7 7LJ:

– Wednesday 8thAugust 2018 – 14.30-15.30
– Tuesday 21st August 2018 – 11.30-12.30
– Wednesday 5th September 2018 -14.30-15.30
– Tuesday 18th September 2018 – 11.30-12.30

The following dates will take place at our East Leake office at Unit 1, Lighting House, 3-5 Station Road, East Leake, Loughborough, LE12 6LQ:

– Thursday 30th August 2018 – 14.00-15.00
– Thursday 13th September 2018 – 10.30-11.30

If you have any questions about the Catch Up Cafe or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing info@harmless.org.uk or by calling 0115 880 0280.

In the News: Mental health education is to be made compulsory in schools across the country.

Children are to learn about good mental health, the importance of good relationships and how to be physically healthy, the Department for Education has said.
 
The government said youngsters will be taught about topics such as consent, keeping safe online and LGBT+ issues.
 
All children will also learn about healthy lifestyle habits.
Children will also be taught how to recognise when others are struggling with mental health and how to offer help.
 
In a statement, the DfE said: “The guidance – which was last updated in 2000 – will become compulsory in all schools across the country from September 2020, and will put in place the building blocks needed for positive and safe relationships of all kinds.”
 
According to the DfE, teachers will talk to children as young as primary school age about the features of healthy friendships, family relationships and other relationships they may encounter.
And at secondary schools, teachers will build on this and, “at the appropriate time”, talk to children about intimate relationships.
Children at both levels will be learning about staying safe online, how to use technology safely and how to keep personal information private.
 
The new teaching guidelines have been developed in response to a “national call” for topics such as these to be covered, the DfE said.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “I want to make sure that our children are able to grow up to become happy and well-rounded individuals who know how to deal with the challenges of the modern world.
“Part of this is making sure they are informed about how to keep themselves safe and healthy and have good relationships with others.
“Many of today’s problems did not exist when we last gave schools guidance on how to teach Relationships and Sex Education 18 years ago.
“The action we’re taking is important to help support teachers and schools design a curriculum that will enrich their pupils in an age appropriate way.
“Good physical and mental health is also at the heart of ensuring young people are ready for the adult world. By making health education compulsory we are giving young people the tools they need to be ready to thrive when they leave school.”
 
The move to include these subjects has been welcomed by campaigners, who called for personal, social and health education lessons (PHSE) to be made compulsory to tackle the rise in mental health issues.
 
But some have expressed disappointment that the change will not come in until 2020.
 
Link to full blog: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/mental-health-education-to-be-made-compulsory-in-schools-a3891421.html

In the News: Facebook and Instagram launch major overhaul to stop people using them so much

Facebook and Instagram are launching major changes to stop people using them so much.

Both apps and sites are getting a whole host of new features intended to make sure that people use them in a healthy way.

They include a special dashboard, which will show all of the time users have spent on both apps, reminders that will pop up when people have been on them for too long and the option to mute notifications so that people can take a break from the site entirely.

The new features come amid growing concern about the way that social media apps like Facebook and Instagram damage the people who use them.

And they come amid similar tools being launched from other tech companies including Apple and Google.

Facebook said that the new tools had been developed “based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organisations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community”.

The new features come amid growing concern about the way that social media apps like Facebook and Instagram damage the people who use them.

And they come amid similar tools being launched from other tech companies including Apple and Google.

Facebook said that the new tools had been developed “based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organisations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community”.

Facebook has been trying to stress that it is intended to be a place where people feel like their time has been well spent. Bosses, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have committed to make fundamental changes to the way the platform works to try and stop it hurting the people who use it.

The changes were welcomed by groups including the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

“We are keen for social media companies to be part of the solution when it comes to making their platforms more positive places for mental health and wellbeing, so it is very encouraging to see Facebook and Instagram taking steps in the right direction by implementing these measures,” said Ed Morrow, external affairs manager at RSPH.

But many noted that the sites still has a long way to go in addressing the various problems they can inflict on young people.

“Facebook and Instagram state they want to ensure their platforms are safe but to do so they need to tackle serious problems within their sites,” said Laura Randall, NSPCC’s associate head of child safety online.

The updates will roll out “soon” on both Facebook and Instagram.

Link to original post: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-instagram-time-addicted-safety-privacy-security-latest-update-a8472581.html

 

In the News: Scroll free September: NHS endorses mental health campaign to get children to give up social media for one month

After the success of Movember the NHS has endorsed a mental health campaign to get children to give up social media for 30 days.
 
Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health, said the campaign for people to sign up for a “Scroll-Free September” highlighted growing concerns that social media was contributing to a potential “epidemic” in mental ill health among young people.
 
The campaign is the brainchild of Britain’s oldest public health body, The Royal Society for Public Health, whose poll to launch it showed two thirds of people would consider giving up social media for the 30 days of September. It is the first time it has been tried anywhere in the world.
 
Ms Murdoch said the crisis fuelled by social media demonstrated why there needed to be “a major ramp up of services to deal with the mental health problems as part of the NHS 10-year plan”.
She added: “We need to see concerted action, with everyone taking responsibility, including social media giants, so the NHS is not left to pick up the pieces of a mental health epidemic in the next generation.”
 
In the royal society poll, a third of social media users and half of young users, aged 18 to 34, believed quitting social media for a month would help them sleep, better improve their real-world relationships and benefit their mental health and well being.
In an exclusive article for The Daily Telegraph to launch the initiative, Shirley Cramer, the royal society’s chief executive, said its own research showed social media increased young people’s anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, body image concerns and fear of missing out through the addictive psychological techniques used by the firms to keep people online.
 
Echoing the Telegraph’s Duty of Care campaign for greater legal protection of children against online harms, she said the social media firms needed to “redesign their products with human well being at their core – not as an afterthought.”
 
She added: “Another part of that rebalancing is about examining and retaking control of our own relationships with social media. That is why, today, we are announcing the launch of the first ever Scroll Free September – a unique opportunity to break from all social media accounts for 30 days.”
 
As evidence of the addictive quality of social media, half of 18 to 34 year olds admitted it would be hard or “impossible” to give up social media for 30 days. One in 10 18 to 24 year olds said it would be impossible.
 
The royal society, the world’s oldest public health body, is therefore offering some “scroll-free-lite” options for people signing up to the campaign website which include giving up social media in the evening, at social events, in the bedroom, at work or at school.
Scroll Free September mirrors similar campaigns including Movember (to promote men’s health), Stoptober (to encourage smokers to quit the habit) and Dry January (to refrain from alcohol after the potential excesses of the festive season).
 
The new initiative is also being backed by NHS Scotland, Public Health England’s Rise Above campaign and MPs including the all-party parliamentary group on social media and young people’s mental health which last month launched an inquiry into the impact of social media.
 
Research by the royal society found one in five people lost sleep during the night to check messages. It also found heavier users of social media – particularly girls – were more likely to report poor mental health and seven in 10 young people had experienced cyberbullying.
 
It wants social media firms to do more to identify people with mental health problems and provide advice to them, introduce pop-up heavy use warnings at, for example, two-hour intervals and for digitally-manipulated photographs to be tagged as such.
It is also proposes children should have lessons in how to handle social media as part of compulsory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) lessons.
 
Link to full blog: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/26/scroll-free-september-nhs-endorses-mental-health-campaign-get/